Play Therapy – Individual Counseling & Psychotherapy – Family Counseling – Couples Counseling
Marietta Counseling offers a wide variety of therapy services for all ages and issues affecting both adults and children. It can often feel confusing for people seeking counseling support to know what the features and differences are among the many modalities. Please feel free to browse the different types of therapy listed below to learn more about the variety of counseling services available.
The Association for Play Therapy (APT) (www.a4pt.org) defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.” Play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego (Landreth, 2002). In addition, play allows us to practice skills and roles needed for survival. Learning and development are best fostered through play (Russ, 2004).
View this video on Play Therapy Works!
Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children (Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002; O’Connor & Schaefer, 1983). Therapists strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings (Gil, 1991). In play therapy, toys are like the child’s words, and play is the child’s language (Landreth, 2002). Through play, therapists may help children learn more adaptive behaviors when there are emotional or social skills deficits (Pedro-Carroll & Reddy, 2005). The positive relationship that develops between therapist and child during play therapy sessions provides a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing (Moustakas, 1997). Play therapy may also be used to promote cognitive development and provide insight about and resolution of inner conflicts or dysfunctional thinking in the child (O’Connor & Schaefer, 1983; Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005).
Preschool Emotion Education Program Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including children whose problems are related to life stressors such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, or chronic illness, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer, 2005). Play therapy helps children:
- Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
- Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
- Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
- Learn to experience and express emotion.
- Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
- Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
- Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.
Individual Counseling & Psychotherapy
Individual psychotherapy is provided for adults and adolescents who are seeking support for a wide variety of issues, and there are many theoretical orientations and modalities from which therapists approach individual counseling.
Often, this kind of therapy is referred to as “talk therapy,” but that does not describe all that occurs in the counseling process. Unlike children, adults generally have the ability to explore and express through the use of verbal exchange. Therapists are, therefore, able to facilitate and assist clients in examining their thoughts, feelings, past experiences, and possibilities for the future through verbal techniques.
All of the therapists at Marietta Counseling provide and hold a space for clients to feel at ease, to feel emotionally safe and understood. From this basis, other therapeutic skills may be used to assist clients in exploring and working through what may be blocking them from feeling at ease and in balance in their lives. Some of those tools might be cognitive restructuring, challenging irrational thoughts, insight and somatic awareness, goal-setting and action-plan setting, dialectical behavior therapy, systems and internal family systems therapy, transactional analysis, experiential exploration, writing and artistic expression therapy, anger management focus, relaxation and stress management training, social skills facilitation, and many, many other tools.
The most important thing to realize with individual counseling is that it is tailored to the individual’s needs to best support the growth and healing needed and desired by the client.
There are a number of ways that the therapists at Marietta Counseling assist families. Family counseling can look very different depending on the individual therapist’s approach and the needs of each particular family. Here are some general ideas to help provide an understanding of what you might expect from family therapy.
A family is a dynamic system, often seen as an entity in and of itself with various parts. Each individual in the family is also a part of the family system. Some therapists provide counseling for families by having the entire family present in each session in order to work with the dynamic as a whole. Sometimes therapists will work with members of the family separately or in pairs depending on the issues that are presented.
Family therapy often incorporates activities that facilitate a shift in the dynamics within the family, introducing new ways of communicating and working through issues that are affecting the family as a whole.
One way that we as children’s therapists assist parents and children is through “fillial play therapy” in which counselors help parents become an important agent in the child’s therapy. Parents are taught by the therapist how to use play as a means of encouraging their child’s continuing progress and development in expressing and working through the issues the child is facing in counseling with the therapist. This process not only benefits the child but the parent and the parent-child relationship. Families are often brought into the therapist’s office and provided with specific art projects, puppetry work, or games to assist in not only providing the therapist insight as to the dynamics in the family but to facilitate a process of “working through” issues the family faces as a whole.
Relationships progress through varying stages. A relationship is a dynamic process that is affected not only by the two personalities and histories of each half of the couple but also influenced by external events and challenges that most people face such as death, parenting issues, finances, issues of intimacy, extended family conflict, and many other potential stressors.
Couples counseling is an opportunity for a couple to explore the many facets of both external and internal influence on the state of the relationship. The therapist acts not as a referee or a judge but as a facilitator in the process of examining and fostering a shift in the patterns many couples fall into. In couples work, therapists may provide exercises and homework between sessions for the couple to reinforce what they are learning about one another and a new way of relating in their therapy sessions.
At Marietta Counseling, couples counseling is about working toward harmony regardless of where a couple is in the relationship. There is always the goal of engendering hope for a more harmonious way of relating as the couple redefines the nature and future of their relationship.
The below video is a message from the founder of Emotionally Focused Couple’s Therapy, Susan Johnson. Counselors in our office have received training and supervision to provide this therapeutic approach.